Wikipedia is the classic underdog story. A new spin on David vs Goliath. If David were a good idea that eventually morphed into something far larger than Goliath.

Let’s begin. Back in the early 2000’s, if you wanted a comprehensive overview of an subject, concept or event you had limited options. You were limited to your textbooks, resources contained in the library, news reports and the occasional internet resource. Air chair intellectuals, real intellectuals and university students would spend hours searching and compiling information for a general overview of an obscure query.

Enter Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia purely comprised of user contributions. Wikipedia allows any internet user to edit any Wikipedia content. Right now you could edit the Wikipedia page of Trump and explain how he is a giant Cheeto. This ease of edition and the amount of internet users has caused an explosion in Wikipedia content. It has pages describing the in and outs of Aortic Dissection to tracking the career of Justin Bieber to the pros and cons of Artifical Intelligence. As of the end of May 2017, Wikipedia in it’s English edition has over 5 million articles is now a one stop shop for knowledge and information on a nearly every subject imaginable.

But it wasn’t smooth sailing for the “People’s Encyclopedia”. Naturally the academic community were worried about the academic integrity of Wikipedia and the fact that any old joker could change the page. The information sources of the day, the Encyclopedia Britannica and expensive textbooks were all curated by experts in their fields and arguable this is the preferred method for knowledge dissemination but it it expensive and therefore less accessible than Wikipedia. If you have a computer and an internet connection, you can learn about quantum mechanics, the Moari land wars or the American Electoral Process or whatever else takes your fancy. For this reason, Wikipedia is the fifth most visited site on the internet and the equivalent of the internet’s library.

So, Wikipedia became the vehicle for information dissemination. Contributors were made up of university students with access to those expensive textbooks, people who practiced in the field and all those who could explain these ideas in layman’s terms even with all the references. The content of Wikipedia was vetted based on conciseness and the ability to understand therefore qualifications meant nothing therefore the explanation of someone in Dannevirke could trump a Harvard professor, theoretically.

So get started on anything you are interested in. You can browse for now and learn to contribute later. You can go directly to “https://en.wikipedia.org” and use the search bar or you can just type in your query into Google with the last keyword being “wiki” and it should be the top search result.

Happy computing.


The Beginners Block

These articles are essential for beginners. We advise making your way through the entire block to get a grip on the fundamental, most used tools available on your computer through the internet.